Climate Change, Health, and Nursing


Nurses are trusted health professionals in unique positions to inform and mobilize society to act on climate change. With this report, we aim to inform nurses on the science behind climate change and health.

Our hope is to inspire nurses to be leaders in helping our patients, our communities, and our health care institutions engage in climate change mitigation activities and in preparing for potential effects of climate change.

Besides a review of the science, this report explores regional differences through case studies concluding with opportunities for nurses to reduce harm by mitigating and adapting to these changes. To describe the many ways nurses are leading the profession in addressing climate change, nurses’ voices are highlighted through short video stories that can be found here. As the nation’s most trusted professionals, nurses can lead the charge to significantly improve society’s response to climate change and foster the strategies needed for a healthy future for everyone.

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Nurses Voices from Across the Nation: Personal Stories

Nurses across the nation see the impacts of climate change on health, and many are committed to addressing the challenge of global climate change. We have collected these stories here and hope that you will find them inspiring. We welcome nurses from all backgrounds to share their climate stories with us. To submit your story please contact Katie Huffling at katie@envirn.org.

 Laura Anderko PhD RN

Al Gore’s landmark film, An Inconvenient Truth in 2006 started me on my journey to become more involved with addressing climate change and health impacts. Activities have included the development of a course in climate change and health, conducting research on the health impacts from heat waves, and advocating for clean, renewable energy. In 2013, the White House honored me as a Champion of Change for my advocacy work in addressing Climate Changes and Public Health.

Stephanie Chalupka EdD, RN, PHCNS-BC, FAAOHN, FNAP

A growing understanding of the impact of climate change on children’s health, and the impact of climate change on the health care delivery system brought me to my work with climate change. I have focused my efforts to address climate change in two areas, the education of health professionals about the impact of climate change on human health, as well as assisting hospitals to enhance resilience for a changing climate and improve their response to extreme weather events.

Phyllis Eide PhD, MPH, APRN-BC

I’ve been an RN since 1978, in academia since 1992, and involved with climate change issues since 2009, when I did a certificate on “Decision Making for Climate Change” through the University of Washington.  Since 2010, I’ve done numerous presentations and posters at regional and international conferences on climate change’s impact on human health, and initiated a climate change writing group with 3 nursing colleagues (2 manuscripts in preparation, 1 in circulation).  I’m currently analyzing pilot data from a small study of nursing faculty on attitudes related to climate change. Dr. Eide’s video can be found here

Robyn Gilden, PhD, RN

As a faculty member at the University of Maryland I am developing an online course in climate change and health, as well as heading up a Climate Change and Health Workgroup for the School of Nursing. In 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the White House event when the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) launched the Climate and Health Assessment.

Sally Melcher-McKeagney, RN-BC

I live in Fairfield, Maine, and work as a staff nurse in an inpatient psychiatric unit.  My voice seems strongest when I discuss the effects of climate change on human health.

Beth Schenk, PhD, MHI, RN-BC

My area of research focus is the environmental impacts of healthcare. I developed the Nurses Environmental Awareness Tool (NEAT), to help ascertain nurses’ awareness of the environmental impacts of healthcare, and the mitigating behaviors they perform. I live and work in Missoula, Montana.

Lois Wessel, RN, CFNP

I work at the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment at Georgetown University. I am passionate about connecting my patients, mostly low income Latinos, to the outdoors for physical and mental health purposes.